Newtown’s rich history evident in Riddiford Street
April 3, 2017
Riddiford Street in Newtown owes its name to Daniel Riddiford, one of Wellington’s earliest settlers and a wealthy landowner.
The street is home to many important places such as the Wellington Regional Hospital, Newtown Library and Wellington Zoo.
In the mid-1800s the city’s first horse-drawn tram service was established in Riddiford Street. An electric tram system was established in 1904 and was a popular mode of transport to and from the area.
The Tramways Corporation, established by the Wellington City Council, was a highly respected element in the Newtown community. Many of its employees were from Newtown.
The old Newtown Library was also sited on the street from 1902 to 1957, until it was moved to its current location on the corner of Constable Street in 1990.
The Star Cinema, built in 1910, was one of the earliest custom-built theatres in the province.
Wellington Regional Hospital dominates the landscape of Riddiford Street and has a rich history.
A 10-acre site in Newtown was set aside by the Government for architect C Julius Toxward to draw plans. The proposal was submitted to the superintendent of the province of Wellington on 23 April, 1875.
Prison labour from The Terrace and Mount Cook jails helped build the first hospital, which was established on Riddiford Street in 1881.
The current Wellington Regional Hospital was approved on May 2002 and demolition began in 2004 with the famous front block entrance arches and steps preserved from the old site to be used in the new hospital. Construction was completed in 2008 and the new hospital officially opened on March 6, 2009.
Riddiford Street is a melting pot of cultures and this is presented at the annual street festival.
The Carrara Park Carnival was moved to Riddiford Street in 1997 as a public celebration of the then-new Wellington City Council tree planting and street improvements.
The festival has become so popular that the Newtown Residents Association continued the festival and it is held every March.